The versatility and recyclability of concrete was put to the test in the third annual "Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World" student design competition.

The competition is co-sponsored by Portland Cement Association (PCA) along with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and is administered by Association of Collegiate School of Architecture (ACSA).

This year more than 800 students from 33 architecture schools around the world participated. Students either created an environmentally responsible recycling center, focused on reusing today's materials to preserve tomorrow's resources, or designed a building element that provides a sustainable solution to real-world environmental challenges.

Antonio Vigil of the University of New Mexico won first place in the recycling center category, for his interesting blend of programmatic elements built around the prominent sustainable theme of "reduce, recycle, reuse." His recycling center was located in a central shopping area and included a local market or "Mercardo" for people to sell and exchange goods.

The building element category, won by Anne Miller, from the University of Toronto, explored the minimal use of materials, resulting in a reusable fabric concrete formliner.

"We applaud these students for coming up with such innovative submissions and pushing the boundaries of concrete in green building," says David Shepherd, Portland Cement association's director of sustainable development. "Concrete's durability, energy efficiency, and versatility make it an ideal building material for sustainable design. This competition clearly illustrates its many applications."

Winning students, their faculty sponsors, and schools will receive cash prizes and software totaling nearly $50,000. Included in the prize package is StructurePoint, concrete design software, a retail value of nearly $10,000.

Prize-winning projects will be displayed at the 2009 ACSA Annual Meeting in Portland and at the 2009 American Institute of Architects Convention in San Francisco. In addition, a competition summary catalog will be available from ACSA in fall 2008.

First Place Winner - Recycling Center

  • Student: Antonio Vigil
  • University: University of New Mexico
  • Faculty sponsor: Geoffrey Adams
  • Project title: Mixed-use Recycling Center + Mercado

Jurors awarded Bell first place for his "innovative use of concrete." The Mixed-use Recycling Center + Mercado makes a visual statement with its location near a busy highway and shopping district and provides a more sustainable venue for purchasing and exchanging goods.

Honorable Mentions - Recycling Center

  • Students: Mary Stuckert and Maria Galarza
  • University: Texas Tech University
  • Faculty Sponsor: Bennett Robert Neiman
  • Project Title: Solid Direction: Concrete Thinking
  • Student: Dean Cowdrey
  • University: University of New Mexico
  • Faculty Sponsor: Geoffrey Adams
  • Project Title: Albuquerque Recycling Center
  • Student: Hon Cheung Wong
  • University: University of Southern California
  • Faculty Sponsor: Warren Techentin
  • Project Title: Oasis of Downtown: 110 Expo Recycling Center

First Place Winner - Building Element

  • Students: Anne Miller
  • University: University of Toronto
  • Faculty Sponsors: Brigitte Shim, OAA, FRAIC, AIA International
  • Project Title: From Folded to Form: Making the MASS Mobile

Miller was commended by jurors for a "very thorough exploration of the concept." Her concept of reusable fabric concrete form liners not only "used minimal materials" but allowed for a resulting "interesting aesthetic."

Additional Winners - Building Element

2nd Place

  • Students: Sean Cottengim, Shadi Saleh, and Marco Downs
  • University: University of Cincinnati
  • Faculty Sponsors: Terry Boling, AIA
  • Project Title: Aqueous Aggregation

3rd Place

  • Students: Dora Kelle, Mark Bearak, and Adam Mercier
  • University: Columbia University
  • Faculty Sponsors: Phillip Anzalone, RA
  • Project Title: Brise Block -or- Wall Redefined

Panel of Judges

During the weekend of June 7, 2008, a design jury convened in Washington, D.C., to select the winning projects. The design jury consisted of the following individuals:

  • Terri Boake, associate professor of architecture at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and president of the Society of Building Science Educators
  • Renee Cheng, Associate Professor and Head of College of Design,University of Minnesota
  • Shelia Kennedy, AIA, principal of Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • David Shepherd, AIA, director of sustainable development for the PCA
  • Donn Thompson, AIA, LEED AP, residential technology program manager forPCA

Additional information is available at or